‘Mask up’ says COVID expert
‘The rule is to go in hard and early and don’t mess around or the virus will win.’
More than 100 people tuned into radio broadcaster and journalist Dr Norman Swan for an illuminating interview by Shule board member and journalist Rachelle Unreich on Zoom Tuesday night (June 22).
Dr Swan hosts The Health Report on ABC Radio National, the world’s longest-running health program in the English-speaking world. And since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, he has co-hosted ‘Coronacast’, a daily podcast answering listeners’ questions and covering COVID research.
His primary message was that we [Victoria] can turn things around – following the rise in community transmission – by wearing masks when we’re indoors with other people, especially family members.
Dr Swan said there’s nothing new or surprising about the present pandemic. “Not a single textbook needs to be re-written; everything that’s happened has been predictable. He said we must test, isolate and contact trace; that the rule is to go in hard and early and don’t mess around or virus will win.
Takeaways from the interview include:
In lighter, more personal moments:
- The greatest chance of infection is by breathing in the same air as someone else with the virus. It’s unusual to catch coronavirus outdoors and from surfaces, though possible.
- Wearing masks indoors and when you can’t socially distance outdoors is the key to being able to open up the state. Melburnians should have to wear a mask on public transport and in cinemas.
- Generally, most masks don’t protect the wearer, but they significantly prevent a asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic person who’s carrying the virus from spreading the disease to other people.
- Masks should contain three layers – waterproof on outside, densely-woven cotton on the inside and another cotton middle layer. N95 masks are fine, but not those with a one-way valve which are designed for dust and can spread the virus. It should cover the face. A good test is to put on a mask and spray perfume in your vicinity. If you can smell the scent, the mask is ineffective.
- Large public events are problematic because contact tracing isn’t possible, but we could hold them outdoors if everyone wore a mask. There was no fall-out from the protest march because 60 percent of people wore masks.
- If you sneeze and have COVID-19, the spray particles can travel eight metres in only three seconds and hover for two to three hours, which is why the government has curtailed family contact. This is borne out by the China experience.
- Social distancing, hand hygiene and being super careful are unnegotiable.
- A ‘curve of mental health problems’ is predicted to start quite soon as well as a ‘curve of disadvantage’ due to people being out of work.
- Suffering will increase if we go into austerity mode to pay back debt. We need to keep spending for about a year to continue to stimulate the economy.
- Herd immunity requires an immunised population of 60-70 percent.
- Workplaces in identified ‘hot spots’ areas should make masks compulsory.
- The tests aren’t perfect. If you’ve lost your sense of taste or smell, assume you have COVID-19 whatever the tests may show. If symptoms persist, have another test.
- Grandparents are at most risk from family members aged 18 to 30 who should wear a mask and socially distance if they visit. Young children are not thought to be spreading the virus.
- We should stay on high alert until there is a vaccine, which is unlikely for at least a year.
- General health and wellbeing are vital. Get out in the sun, exercise and keep your body fit. Also, it’s imperative to control any chronic illness.
- Dr Swan agreed his television profile has made him more recognisable on the street, though as medical host on The Biggest Loser, he was widely recognised by eight and nine year olds, “the core audience”. Ironically, now people come straight up to his face at the supermarket asking about coronavirus. “It takes me a lot longer to shop,” he quipped.
- Dr Swan grew up in Glascow (as his cousin by marriage, Shule VP Gerry Bullon) and was in the Habonim drama group. He did a lot of acting as a youngster and loved it, but sacrificed those aspirations for the “safe option”, medicine, to escape his mother’s wrath. “I decided it was much safer to be a second-rate doctor than a second-rate actor.”
- Over Pesach, lockdown provided the opportunity to hone his kneidlach-making skills, though they didn’t stake up to his cousin’s recipe, enjoyed in previous years at family seders.
Three sleeps ‘til Trivia Quiz
If you haven’t already registered, do it right now so you don’t miss out on all the fun of Sunday night’s annual Hocking Stuart/Belle Property Trivia Quiz.
While we won’t be shmoozing together in person at the Shule’s Adele Southwick Centre as usual, this year’s event will contain all the fun, entertainment and prizes with the added bonus of being able to participate from the comfort of your own home. And I know many of us are looking forward to wrestling with some ‘meaty’ trivia.
Trivia master John Slutzkin assures us that using Zoom and online quiz platform Kahoot should provide a similar quiz event to past years. There will be two rounds of about 20 minutes each, separated by a break and participants will also be sent a paper quiz to be completed and marked at home.
There will be cash prizes thanks to the generous support of our sponsors Hocking Stuart/Belle Property and Calculator King as well as a random lucky number draw. Start time is 8.30pm.
To play you must pre-register with John at email@example.com
Last chance to make the ‘Dome’
This year’s special 150th birthday edition of Under the Dome (part 1) will be jam-packed with great reading and we’re inviting stories (or story ideas), photos and memorabilia. As a prelude to next year’s 150th anniversary, Under the Dome 2020 will illustrate our Shule’s first 75 years, in words and pictures, and much more. Among the highlights, members across the generations will tell their personal stories of life in a COVID-19 world; we’ll learn about the Choir’s exciting new directions; long-time members will reminisce about their special relationship with our Shule; and Jeffrey Rosenfeld will share family memories of Sir John Monash.
If you have any story ideas, photos and/or memorabilia, please contact Gerry Bullon (firstname.lastname@example.org) by June 30.
Leonard Levy, a past president and life member, has enjoyed a special relationship with the Shule since childhood. He has filled voluntary roles for more than 25 years.
Shule connection: My family has a long association with this congregation. My mother was a teacher in our Hebrew School years ago. The organ in the boardroom was donated by my maternal grandmother in honour of her parents.
When and why volunteering: I have been a volunteer from the age of 16. It is a natural follow-on from the aims and ideals of scouting. I became involved with the Shule nearly 30 years ago. It gives me great pleasure to see the results from volunteering.
Shule roles: I have headed many committees. Currently, it is my pleasure to assist in organising daily minyanim for Shacharit services and to assist on the Bimah in the absence of John Slutzkin.
What you enjoy most about volunteering: the opportunity to make the world a better place; the friendships you make with likeminded people.
Why St Kilda Shule is so special: It is a second home to me. I am comfortable there with friends in an atmosphere of goodwill, spirituality and friendship. We have an exceptional leadership team on and off the Bimah and the services are excellent.
Special memory: I miss the old Purim parades with dress-ups and prizes for the children.
Your family: Our full family unit is 20. I am married to Kay and have four daughters, a son and nine grandchildren. My family gives me a lot of pleasure. I was previously married to Jan who passed away at an early age.
Professional life: I was a pharmacist for many years and was involved in many industry activities and with professional organisations.
Sporting life: played hockey competively for many years and was active in sports administration.
Favourite pastime: walking in the sun; exercising in the pool; working my mind by learning; holidays; and music.
Favourite type of music: I really enjoy light classical music and theatre.
What you’ve missed most due to Coronavirus restrictions: the ability to mix with the family and friends in a social context.
New hobbies, interests during this time: just catching up on 50 years of jobs that I have delayed.
Positives you’ve taken out of lockdown: a more relaxed life: sleeping a little later, not so many meetings, catching up with family.
What you’re looking forward to most when normality (or near normality) returns: the ability to travel to the homes of our family and friends; to personally attend classes and meetings.
SKY’s the limit
Places are going fast for the first SKY Singles dinner – on Sunday 26 July at Spot On café – since the break for COVID lockdown. Past events have attracted up to 50 people, but with new social distancing restrictions, the venue can accommodate only 30 in addition to hosts Eve and Ronnie Figdor. The new, modified format has lots of surprises", Rabbi Figdor said. Dinners are scheduled for:
On this date ...
SKY55 (40-55) on 26 July - www.trybooking.com/BITBH
SKY40 (25-40) on 30 August - www.trybooking.com/BITCO
SKY60 (45-60) on 25 October - www.trybooking.com/BITCS
SKY45 (30-45) on 22 November - www.trybooking.com/BITDC
1 July 1872: Synagogue foundation stone laid at Charnwood Road, St Kilda. The Shule remained at this location until 1927 when it moved around the corner to its present site – a former church - in Charnwood Gr.
As the Shule approaches its 150th anniversary of its founding in 1871, we reflect on significant dates.
Do you have a piece of history or memorabilia of the Shule? Please contact Harold Sternfeld on 0422 369 963 or email email@example.com.
This week in the Torah Parashat ShKorach
Looking beyond what you can see
Korach (Hertz Chumash p. 639, Numbers Chap 16) Haftarah (Hertz Chumash P. 944 Isaiah Chap 66)
Isn’t it ironic that one of the most oft-quoted and consistently-preached sayings is also one of the most difficult to practice?: “Don’t judge someone else until you are in their shoes” (Ethics of the Fathers 2:4). How often do we find ourselves in situations where pointing the accusing finger seems almost irresistible? We know we shouldn’t, but we often tend to put our emotional selves before our rational selves and react to events in a manner that we may later regret.
Fortunately, there are times in life when we are taught how to do it correctly through the living examples of others. I will never forget one of the most awkward moments of my rabbinic career when several years ago, due to circumstances outside of my control, I arrived almost an hour late to a consecration. It was very embarrassing to say the least. I apologised to those who were present and at the conclusion of the service I went to the person who had organised the consecration to explain what had happened. He looked at me with complete equanimity and said with a smile: “Circumstances – I understand”.
That day, a young rabbi learnt a valuable life lesson from one of his congregants: that the most important thing to look at when judging other people is not their actions, but their intention. We all make mistakes in life, but rarely are they caused by malice or ill intent.
Another staggering example of judging people favourably is found in this week’s Torah portion. The name of the parashah – Korach – beggars belief. Korach was known as one of the most selfish and egocentric human beings to have ever walked on this planet. He was viewed as an opportunist who sought to completely undermine Moses and Aaron (the High Priest) in a bid to usurp their positions as leaders of the Jewish people. Why then did our sages choose to perpetuate his memory for all eternity by naming one of the weekly portions after him?
Because, as one of the more novel commentators explains, people completely misjudged him. They observed his wrongful behaviour superficially without ever trying to understand what he wanted to achieve through his actions. Lurking within his supremely confident and arrogant exterior was a lonely, spiritually-deprived soul. All he wanted was to experience the warmth of God’s touch. He yearned for spiritual companionship. He knew that Jewish leaders were privy to these experiences and so he led a revolt to put himself into Moses’ shoes and to experience this himself.
There’s no doubt that his behaviour was completely unacceptable – but his inner intentions were innocent. Because of his actions he fell to his demise, but in recognition that his motives were pure, we named the Torah portion after him.
And if a man like Korach could be judged favourably by looking deeper than what meets the eye, then we can certainly learn to do the same when it comes to judging others – even if they come an hour late to a loved one’s consecration.